Thanks to a post I made on Facebook yesterday, I came across this wonderful excerpt from a story by Kurt Vonnegut, “God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian”. I’m thinking it might fit nicely somewhere in my book. Many thanks to my Facebook friend Sam Garrett for pointing me to it.
“This morning, thanks to a controlled near-death experience, I was lucky enough to meet, at the far end of the blue tunnel, a man named Salvatore Biagini. Last July 8th, Mr. Biagini, a retired construction worker, age seventy, suffered a fatal heart attack while rescuing his beloved schnauzer, Teddy, from an assault by an unrestrained pit bull named Chele, in Queens.
“The pit bull, with no previous record of violence against man or beast, jumped a four-foot fence in order to have at Teddy. Mr. Biagini, an unarmed man with a history of heart trouble, grabbed him, allowing the schnauzer to run away. So the pit bull bit Mr. Biagini in several places and then Mr. Biagini’s heart quit beating, never to beat again.
“I asked this heroic pet lover how it felt to have died for a schnauzer named Teddy. Salvador Biagini was philosophical. He said it sure as heck beat dying for absolutely nothing in the Viet Nam War.”
You can substitute Iraq for Vietnam and it works just as well, eh?
August 25th, 2014 at 4:09 pm
Kurt Vonnegut remains one of my all-time favorite authors (and humanitarian). So if you haven’t read his very short, end-of-life collections of essays, then read “A Man Without a Country”.When I taught English, we read and discussed “Harrison Bergeron”. And then there was the Graduation Commencement speech attributed to KV. It began “Use Sunscreen” or something like that. But there was some question if in fact KV wrote it. What’s the scoop on it, Rick? (Good job and keep on writing).
August 25th, 2014 at 6:25 pm
Hi Russell. Thanks for the comment, and the compliment. I’m not sure if I’ve read “A Man Without a Country”, but I will seek it out. I’ve read a fair amount of KV, but it was a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. Much of what I’ve read in the past has melded together in a giant mosh pit of possible wisdom and plausible pith. I generally can no longer recall much of it without the use of the Internet, which is ironic given KV’s view of the thing.
The commencement speech sounded familiar, but I can’t say for sure I’d read it before. I was able to find it, and lots of stuff about it, quite easily . . . again, by using my cyber-crutch. Here’s what I believe is the original rendition that was incorrectly attributed to him, and here’s an interesting analysis of how the whole thing started and snowballed.
Thanks again. Good to hear from you now that I see your email address and know who you are. It wasn’t clear from the email notification I received. 🙂